“If you’re happy and you know it… clap your hands” – Such simple, yet profound and affecting, lyrics. To know you are happy while you are happy is the greatest thing, and yet we often don’t realise we are happy until that happiness has faded – and sometimes by then no amount of clapping will bring it back.
A few weeks ago I felt as high as a kite – everything in my life was perfect and I knew it, I may have looked like a wibbly mess on the outside, but inside I could feel the happiness simply skipping along without so much as a wobble. But, then I did something very stupid. I made the decision, with the help of my healthcare team, to wean myself off the anti-depressants that I have been reliant on for the best part of 8 years. Previously, I have made the mistake of stopping cold turkey, which had the rather unfortunate result of turning me into someone resembling Jekyll and Hyde. Not keen to repeat this catastrophic mistake, I gradually reduced my dose over 3 weeks, shaving a smidge off the tablets each day until I was left with a crumb. It seemed to be working, my mood remained stable, I had no flip outs and I still felt as happy as that Larry bloke. Until, that is, a couple of days after I’d taken the last crumb. My mood became irritable. I could feel an inner rage bubbling away and the world looked bleak. I was back to feeling low-down, dark and dismally depressed. I searched and searched for excuses – it’s just that time of the month or the kids are being too demanding – but that wasn’t the reason, and I knew it.
Sitting opposite my Neuro Nurse a week later, I listened to the whole scientific explanation of how MS operates for, what must surely be, the 10,000th time. My MRI results have previously shown damage to the parts of my brain that control emotion, this is common in people with MS and can cause irrational mood swings and several emotional changes as well as depression and anxiety. I should know this by now. I should know what MS is. I should know the sort of damage it can cause. Yet, I somehow switch off from the facts and prefer to live in my own bubble of denial, where I can pretend that I have complete and utter control over my MS and its menacing ways. During this appointment, my nurse miraculously managed to puncture this bubble and convince me that I needed to resume my anti-depressant medication and accept that this is all part and parcel of this stupid condition; in her words, I should give myself ‘a break.’
And so, I find myself back on the pills that I was so desperate to stop and happily back to being more ‘me’.
Now, sing along: “If you’re happy and you know it… clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it…
clap your hands